Sunday, April 13, 2008

Anchor Away

James Poniewozik is right on the money in his Time magazine piece on the Katie Couric controversy (will she be fired? will she quit? will it matter?)...

The cold, hard fact is: nobody is presently worth $15 million to anchor a network newscast. Not Brian, not Katie, not Diane, not Oprah. Katie was brought in on the premise that she and her star power -- plus a revamping of the newscast format -- could bring in new viewers to the evening news, rather than just steal a few hundred thou from the competition. She cannot. God cannot. It is a losing proposition. As I have written before, Couric's newscast has been an expensive final refutation of the desperate belief that it is possible to reverse the slow, inexorable decline of network news.

Fewer Americans have the time or inclination to watch a half-hour TV newscast at 6:30 in the evening; those who do will ultimtately die; those who do not presently are not -- unlike the generations before them -- developing the habit as they get older. Period. No star will fix that. No salary will fix it. No new set, no new format will fix it.

Of course, if CBS had dumped Katie and her $15 million/year salary a few months ago, they might still be able to afford me. Ahem.